The ongoing waves of cybersecurity concerns have forced businesses (and individuals) to dramatically restructure their use of digital infrastructure, so much so that merely using the internet now feels like walking on eggshells. You never know which file you download contains a malicious payload or which email attachment could introduce your network to ransomware.
As if things weren’t bad enough with escalating zero-day attacks in 2022, the start of 2023 brought us a new can of worms: ChatGPT – AI research made available to everyone for free, including threat actors. Cybercriminals keep adding more tools to their arsenal, making it impossible for the average person to keep up with the pace of viruses and malware.
A much better idea is to manage your online threats with the help of reliable antivirus software. But this, too, is easier said than done because you have so many options to choose from. We’ve provided a few tips to help you choose the best antivirus software.
You can’t put a price tag on cybersecurity services. With that said, the budget will be a major factor when choosing antivirus software. Most paid antivirus solutions will offer a free trial (usually for about a month) before you take the plunge. Antivirus apps on mobiles (Android and Apple) will often use a freemium model with features that are free but often require you to watch ads.
For users on a tight budget, a free antivirus program may be a viable option for a limited period of time. Depending on your operating system, you could activate Windows Defender, which comes with Windows 10. Alternatively, you could go for a reliable option such as Avast Free Antivirus.
But if you want to keep all threats at bay while offering a slew of features to choose from (such as built-in VPN and password manager), you might want to opt for Bitdefender Internet Security and Norton 360 Deluxe.
The starting price for the most basic virus protection is around $30 and could easily go into the hundreds, depending on how complex your needs are.
Can it Scan Emails?
Social engineering is the best way to circumvent cybersecurity solutions. Most threat actors utilize emails as their primary means of carrying out phishing attacks. Good antivirus software should be able to scan your emails to identify malware before it could attack your network. The good news is that most antivirus software will scan emails for free.
Excellent products that do this for you include Bitdefender Antivirus, AVG Antivirus, and Avast Antivirus – without having to pay a single penny.
Speed and Performance
Some antivirus programs can be very resource-heavy and will utilize your CPU to its fullest extent. This can be problematic if the program runs a deep scan right when you need to perform CPU-intensive tasks on your computer.
Opening a Google Chrome tab in and of itself can be a CPU-intensive task, and having to fight with your antivirus for resources can lead to delays in work. Some antivirus programs take up so many resources that they may cause your applications to crash. This is obviously not part of the user experience.
The best way to tell if an antivirus solution is ‘nimble’ when it comes to resource consumption is by checking online reviews. Read online reviews from other users to see if the antivirus software is affecting the performance of their system. These reviews serve as a good reference before you buy cybersecurity services.
Choose antivirus software that doesn’t steal all your computer’s resources so you can freely work on other tasks. In most cases, you can also opt for antivirus solutions like Kaspersky and Norton Antivirus, which are lighter on your system.
How Often Antivirus Solutions Receive Updates
The threat of cyberattacks is an ongoing affair and will, quite frankly, never stop. Threat actors will come up with new means of breaking into digital infrastructure, whether it involves the use of AI or old-fashioned phishing emails – this is a landscape that keeps evolving. This means the antivirus software must evolve and stay ten steps ahead of the threat actors.
The antivirus software must update its database before a new virus can be deployed, otherwise, users will lose their valuable files even after taking appropriate precautions.
Updating the antivirus software should be easy. Most antivirus solutions update automatically in the background without requiring any input from you.
The user requirements of a business will vary from those of an individual, and this will reflect in their antivirus requirements. A prudent user will analyze all the features antivirus software offers before buying and installing it. For the average online user, standard antivirus packages may be sufficient.
But if you’re running a finance and healthcare business that holds sensitive data, you may need something more comprehensive that covers features such as firewall, anti-spyware, and others. Parents might want their antivirus software to provide parental web filtering solutions to protect their children from inappropriate content.
Does it Come with a File Shredder?
Deleting a harmful file from your computer doesn’t mean it’s completely gone because its electronic traces aren’t eliminated. This means that you may be at risk of recovering the infected file in one way or another. The best way to prevent this from happening is to use file-shredding software. Most antivirus suites will provide you with a file shredder to remove every trace of the harmful file.
Ease of Use
This may not sound very important, but ease of use is extremely important to get the most out of an antivirus. How would you put your antivirus to good use if you can’t even navigate it properly? This is why you should ensure that the antivirus software’s features, protections, and options are easy to understand.
Take advantage of their free trial before you decide to buy them. If it’s hard to understand, fails to remove an infection, or slows down your computer, then it’s probably not the solution for you.